From Monday 25 October, London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) traffic zone is expanding to nearly 18 times its original size.
The zone, designed to cut pollution in the city, will stretch from the North Circular to the South Circular, covering around 140 square miles of the capital and affecting hundreds of thousands of vehicles.
For drivers of cars that don’t meet strict emissions standards, daily charges will apply, with fines for failing to pay the charge.
What is the ULEZ?
The ULEZ is an area of London where vehicles that don’t meet certain emission standards are liable for a daily charge.
The zone was created to improve air quality in the city by reducing the number of older, more polluting vehicles on the roads. The aim of expanding the zone is to cut nitrogen dioxide by around 30%.
Transport for London says the zone is designed to discourage drivers from using these vehicles and encourage them to use alternative forms of transport or switch to newer, cleaner vehicles.
Where does the ULEZ cover?
The ULEZ initially covered the same central area as London’s Congestion Charge zone but has now been expanded to cover all parts of the city within the North and South Circular roads.
It takes in all parts of the city from Haringey in the north and Southwark in the south to Newham in the east and Ealing in the west. It does not include the North and South Circulars themselves (A406 and A205, respectively).
When does the ULEZ operate?
ULEZ charges apply 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Christmas Day is the only day the scheme is not in operation.
The charge period runs from midnight to midnight, meaning that if you are in the zone before and after midnight on the same journey you will be charged for two days’ entry.
How much is the ULEZ charge?
The ULEZ charge for cars and motorbikes that don’t meet the standard is £12.50 per day.
For lorries, coaches and other large vehicles, the charge is £100 per day.
How do I pay the ULEZ charge?
There are several ways to pay TfL for entering the ULEZ.
- Set up Auto Pay to automatically debit your account whenever you use the zone
- Pay online via the Transport for London website
- You can also use the official TfL Pay to Drive in London app. It is available from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store
- Pay by phone: UK: 0343 222 2222; International:+44 343 222 2222; Textphone: 020 7649 9123
What is the fine for failing to pay?
Failing to pay the charge for a car or motorbike will result in a fine of £160, reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days. For larger vehicles the fine is £1,000, reduced to £500.
What cars are exempt from ULEZ charges and how to check if your car is compliant
ULEZ compliance is worked out based on a vehicle’s emissions and TfL says that 80% of vehicles in the city are compliant.
Petrol cars must meet Euro 4 emissions standards while diesel cars must be Euro 6 compliant.
In general this means petrol cars registered after 2005 and diesel cars registered after September 2015 are exempt.
Motorbikes must meet Euro 3 standards, which generally means anything registered after July 2003.
However, there are exceptions so the best way to find out if your vehicle is exempt is to use the TfL checker, which can be found on the Transport for London website.
Classic cars older than 40 years old are exempt as long as they are registered as “historic” with the DVLA.
Drivers can also apply for an exemption to chargers if their vehicle is registered with a disabled or disabled passenger tax class. They will be exempt until 26 October 2025. Blue Badge holders do not automatically qualify for exemption.
Patients travelling for NHS treatment and NHS staff may also qualify for a refund on any charge. Details on NHS reimbursements can be found on the TfL website.
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